Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Creating Exellence

String trio
I was very impressed with all aspects of Joe and Abigail's wedding, but the photography just blew me away. Most people enjoy looking at the wedding pictures, but few know what goes into creating these lasting images.

My husband has been photographing weddings professionally for almost twenty years now and I have photographed several weddings also. But, my speciality is children's portraiture photography.

I became a photographer for Lifetouch Preschool Portraits when my son entered first grade. This job allowed me to work during his school schedule, no holidays, nights and no summers. A great mom job! I had never been a photographer, other than with my own small pocket camera taking pictures of my son at home. But I quickly came to love the work and the creativity it allowed for me.

Most people know school portraits in regards to elementary school ages and up, but preschool portraits are very different. Babies and toddlers don't fold their hands and say cheese. While a four year old may be able to pose on command, few toddlers will be so compliant. So as photographers, we were given much more creative freedom. After working as a photographer for just five years I was named National Photographer of the Year. This is a huge honor. Many photographers working for the company for 20 years have never been awarded this.

Since our foray into photographing weddings we have learned how very difficult it can be. Most couples want magazine quality portraits, however, when the wedding budget gets cut, it usually comes out of the photography budget. The expectation of quality and quantity remains the same—just the price is lowered.

Tabitha Draluck helps arrange the flowers
We worked together on photographing one wedding for a dear friend, so the work was done for free and we were charging them only the price of film and printing. This was in the days before quality digital photography. This wedding became a real headache for us.

First, there was Grandma with her little disposable camera that kept stepping in front of us as we attempted to photograph the formal portraits. Then she started arranging the groups we were photographing, telling people to get out of the shot so she could just keep the ones she wanted in the picture. We told her several times that she was welcome to take photos after we took our pictures but that she should wait for us to arrange the groupings. However, Granny continued to interfere and we eventually had to speak to another family member who had to be very blunt with her.

When the couple returned from their honeymoon, we invited them over to look at their photos and choose what they wanted so we could place the order. Upon picking up the portraits (remembering that we are only charging our cost), the bride's father, who had paid nothing for the wedding but made the groom's family pay for everything, complained that we were charging them too much for how little they were getting.

End of "The First Dance"
When we have not been the official photographers of a wedding, many couples who were displeased with the quality of their professional (paid) portraits later told us that they wished they had hired us.

This is the first wedding we have attended that by far and away we could never have competed with the photography. The images are magazine quality and I felt privileged to see these men in action. The father and son team of David and Luke Edmonson was beyond compare. These men mingled well with the wedding guests, allowing them to take relaxed, natural images of the wedding party and the guests. They always maintained their professionalism and were very nice about allowing others to get good images also.

If you want to see these incredible images you can check it out on their web site at, click Weddings, click Portfolio, then the last option Featured Wedding. The images will probably only be up for a week, so don't waste time—check it out now! You will be amazed by the creativity and workmanship of these men.


DebMc said...

Oh, you've made me laugh out loud. I spent twenty years as a professional photographer doing lots and lots of weddings in that time. Yes, budgets get cut, but the thing I found most frustrating was everyone wanting photos to 'happen' with out allowing a wee bit of time for them.

Photography is a delightful profession. A degree in counseling should come with it to help in dealing with all the personalities involved.

Kim said...

I understand about the time issue. In photographing preschoolers we had to complete schools as large as 80-100 children in one day (actually I had to photograph a center of 197 in one day.) So the goal of the company was an average of 6 minutes per child and we had to photograph each child on two different backgrounds. That doesn't sound like a lot of time when you figure wiping noses and letting them feel comfortable around you as a stranger. But, I did have one center that expected me to complete their center of 180 children in two hours. When I told them this was impossible if they wanted good portraits- they then told me the old company were able to do it. When I asked why they changed companies (was it because the hair and faces were a mess and the parents weren't happy with expressions?) They adjusted the amount of time they were willing to give me.
More than one of the parents I dealt with needed a good mental evaluation. One center had a parent who told me "don't photograph her from that side, I don't want that ugly mark on her face to show." The mark was a strawberry birthmark and the hurtful remarks made to the child really upset and angered me. The teacher in charge said she had never seen me mad in five years, but she knew I was having a hard time keeping my mouth shut.
But, I do love the challange when I'm told "you'll never get this child to smile." I had a mother tell me don't even try since her son had never smiled in any picture (even as an infant weather it was taken by a professional or even family members.) I told her I had to at least try or I didn't feel like I was doing my job. I looked at her four year old, gave him a serious face and said "Don't you dare laugh at me." as you can guess four years olds are very contrary and he bust out laughing and smiling. I turned around and found tears running down the mothers face and even got a hug from the son. Best pay I ever got!